FCA is getting ready for electric cars

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

After Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) said that he didn’t want to sell the Fiat 500e because Fiat was losing money on them, many electric car enthusiasts questioned his intelligence and honesty.

In the USA the Fiat 500 price starts at $16.995, while the Fiat 500e is priced at $31.800 and is only sold in California and Oregon. With a price difference of $14,805 if Fiat can’t sell the electric version with profit it only tells how high is the level of incompetence. They should choose better suppliers for the 24 kWh battery and electric motor…

I think Marchionne wasn’t incompetent, just dishonest. He just wanted to reinforce the myth that electric cars are inherently more costly to build than regular gas cars. So regulators shouldn’t force automakers to built them. But while I think he is dishonest, he knows that electric cars are coming and wants to be prepared for it. Marchionne is the complete opposite of Carlos Ghosn in terms of sincerity, he’s part of the older generations that think that “secret is the soul of business”, the less others know what I know the better… While Carlos Ghosn believes in transparency, what he says is what he believes, this is fundamental to increase trust.


Recently Marchionne changed his speech. This is what he said to the Bloomberg Television:

“I’ve always thought the economic model that supports Tesla is something that Fiat Chrysler could replicate as we have the brand and the vehicles to do it.”


More recently, he told to Automotive News, that he plans to sell a Fiat electric city car in Europe.


2016 Fiat 500e

2016 Fiat 500e


Fiat is currently preparing to service its electric cars nationwide in the USA. This might mean that the 2017 Fiat is going to be expanded to more states than California and Oregon. The other possibility is that the company is only preparing to service the upcoming 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan that will arrive later this year.


At the moment there isn’t a confirmation that the 2017 Fiat 500e will be available nationwide in the USA, or even if it’s the electric car that Fiat will start selling in Europe. But that would be great news.


Currently the Fiat 500e has a 24 kWh battery made with 97 Samsung SDI cells. If Fiat decided to start using the new 94 Ah Samsung SDI cells, 97 of them would give a 34,2 kWh battery. The EPA range could be increased from 84 miles (135 km) to 119 miles (192 km). The 83 kW motor could remain the same, is more than enough for the small car. Adding fast charging capability with the CCS standard would also be very welcomed. If Fiat decides to make these upgrades, it’s game on.

I definitely would like to see such improved Fiat 500e arriving Europe, especially since Renault is always delaying the release of the Twingo ZE.


Renault Twingo ZE

Renault Twingo is basically a more practical Fiat 500 with more doors


Even in Europe the Italian brand is a walking dead, and it’s a shame, the electric car could be the way to revive Fiat.



More info:



Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

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5 years ago

I would be suprised if they rolled out the 500 nationwide over here. I think it is more likely the dealers are simply gearing up for the Pacifica. If they expand sales of the 500 it might just be to the 10 states that have adopted Californias CARB emissions standards. I beleive that in 2018 big auto will have to sell EVs in all 10 CARB states while right now they can just sell in CA and count it towards all states. I have little faith in FCA selling more electrics and still think they are in the worst shape of any of the big auto companies and generally offer lower quality car engine and trannie designs that are several years behind other big auto companies.

I also doubt Marchionne was being truly dishonest as he was probably adding in the design costs to a limited production run which will always show the car is losing money. Big auto needs big quanties to spread out engineering costs over. I know the media kept saying GM was losing X dollars on every gen 1 Volt they sold using that same type of math. But it is also a case where the first electric car you make will have higher engineering costs than the second and third since you have to learn what you are doing.

5 years ago

> and generally offer lower quality car engine and trannie designs that are several years behind other big auto companies

Considering that FCA was long the owner of Ferrari – the spin-off was completed in January this year – I find that literally incredible.

5 years ago
Reply to  Terawatt

I dont know about Fiats but Dodges and Chrysler are certianly behind over here and were that way long before Fiat took over. I doubt any Ferrari tech is put into 20k cars. Mercedes once owned Dodge and they found that you can not or were unwilling to put engines and tranies from 50k cars into a 20k car. Dodge/Chrysler is actualy leaving the compact car market and pulling their Dart and 200 cars largely because they cannot compete. There bigger cars are more muscle cars rather than family transportation some with 500 plus hp.

5 years ago

FCA can choose between going into EVs and figure out how to make a business of it, or be dragged kicking and screaming into EVs. And of course Marchionne knows this. He is merely trying to do what little he can to delay it.

If it were true that FCA were years behind all the others on engine and transmission technology, they ought to be among the most positive incumbents to EVs, since the technology obviates engine and transmission technology!

I am sure they will come after. And I am not at all sure their delaying will actually hurt their business. While their brand is tarnished among EV enthusiasts, we are a tiny segment of the market – and probably without particular influence.

By 2020, or 2025, or whenever EV market share becomes significant enough to really matter, everyone will take part. And perhaps those who come late to the party will have lower cost getting up and running. This largely depends on to what extent the auto industry will become more vertically integrated again. If FCA can simply buy competitive tech from suppliers, they will benefit from the cost reductions and technological progress as much as the others. But if developing and making more of the tech happens inside that car companies themselves, and there are signs this is happening with many incumbents investing in both batteries and EV drivelines, FCA may be forced to do considerable R&D themselves. They will still benefit from generally higher volumes of EV sales though.

We EV enthusiasts are of course itching for new models and rapid progress. But from the POV of a car maker, it isn’t clear that the best time to jump in was in 2010 as Nissan did. They have an advantage (in “volume production readiness”) if EVs were to seriously take off soon, and this may happen. But if it does not, FCA may still have enough time to compete when the day comes.